5 TIPS TO MAKE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS CLICK!

According to London photographer David Locke, photography is not just about being a good photographer. In this dog-eat-dog world, where Instagram has made photographers out of everyone, (including your neighbour’s great aunt), professional photographers need to have a steady head for business, along with a steady hand for shooting. To help point your business in the right direction, here are a few basic tenets followed by photographers who have made the cut in this fiercely competitive field.

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Source: Google Images

Photography is not a hobby, it’s a business.

Even though photography may have been your hobby first, it is now your business, and you need to make sure other people see it in the same light. In a bid to score more clients and build an impressive portfolio, many rookie photographers offer their services free of charge, especially to friends and families. Soon, they are established as a ‘by-the-by photographer’ in the eyes of the world. If you indiscriminately offer free services, your business will soon be staring down the barrel of a gun. Choose clients wisely in the beginning, and offer free services only when you think a project can significantly up your marketing quotient. Also, instead of offering free services, carry out free photography sessions, but offer prints and digital images at a discounted rate.

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Since photography is a business, make it pay.

One of the chief conundrums creative people find themselves in is how much to charge for their services. Compounding this problem is the fact that most creative folk are constantly racked by ‘artistic guilt’, wondering whether they ‘deserve’ to get paid well for their services. The good news is – you definitely do. The tough part is convincing yourself of your worth, and being bold enough to ask for more. Says photographer Rosh Sillars, “Every time I raise my rates, I lose clients who take too much of my time and don’t want to pay for it. I find new clients who believe quality photographers charge more and are willing to pay the price for the best. I like these clients, you will too.”

Bottom-line: There is no ‘right or wrong price’. Ask for what you believe you are worth and stick to that. In fact, what is wrong is underselling yourself.

Be a purple cow – do not follow the herd.

When you have just hung out your shingle, you may give every photography project the nod, for that ‘extra bit of money and experience.’ While that may see you through in the beginning, it will not help you carve a niche for yourself. Like Seth Godin has put it, you will get eyeballs only if you are a purple cow in a field full of ordinary cows.
So observe your strengths and weaknesses, think hard about what kind of photography you really like to do, and build on that. Take the case of Anne Geddes, the iconic photographer, who started photographing babies because she found them to be deeply inspiring. Jeff Cable, another world-famous photographer has said, “I’ll shoot stuff that most people wouldn’t shoot in ways that most people wouldn’t shoot it. I’ll lay on the ground, I’ll go up high, I’ll even dance sometimes with the kids while I’m shooting them.” (source: PicturePerfect:)

Find out what makes you a purple cow, and then hone in on it.

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Source: Google Images

Give your business maximum exposure.

‘My business doesn’t need a marketing plan’, said nobody ever. Every photographer, however brilliant, has had to market his/her skills. However, the crux lies in efficient marketing; and not just a ‘spray and pray’ technique. So how do you stand out from your competitors? The secret lies in not marketing yourself, but in marketing how your client wins by choosing you. Make your website, your social media page, every piece of communication all about what the customer will get and how they will get it, rather than about how great you are. Remember to delve deep into the distinctive benefits of your service, or your unique skills. So if you are a portrait photographer, avoid making blanket statements like – We bring out your best.  Nobody ever hires a portrait photographer to bring out their worst, so an obvious statement like this is no help for your business.

The next step is to identify exactly what kind of clients you will be targeting (brides, pregnant mothers, performance artists?) and then formulate a plan that knocks specifically on their doors.

Most seasoned photographers swear by the efficiency of email marketing as a means of establishing personal, meaningful ties with clients, while blogs and social media channels help create general awareness about their work.

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Source: Google Images

Network: When not behind the lens, take the spotlight

For most start-ups, business comes through referrals from happy customers. But how do you get customers in the first place? That is where networking and people skills come into play. When not behind the camera, try networking with a wide variety of people through different channels. Join forums, clubs, participate in start-up meets, hold workshops on photography, attend workshops on photography, even befriend your competitors. You never know where the next project may come from.

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Source: Google Images

As photographer Lauren Lim puts it, photography is a people’s business. The more effort you put into connecting with people, the more success you get.

 What has helped you grow your photography business? Chip in with your advice in the comment section below and let us know.

deAsra Foundation offers end-to- end support and counselling to emerging entrepreneurs in the small-mid scale sector. To date, we have helped 52 entrepreneurs grow and nurture their ideas into successful businesses. Thinking of starting out as an entrepreneur? Reach out to us at 020 – 65365300/11 for personalised guidance and help.

 

 

Cooking up a small food business? Read these tips to get a head start.

According to statistics, 9 out of 10 start-ups fall by the wayside. This figure may paint a grim picture, but rather than getting discouraged, budding entrepreneurs should take heart, because 1 start-up out of every 10 does manage to tick all the right boxes, and that start-up can be you. In this article, the business mentors at deAsra have put together a few challenges commonly faced by small-scale food businesses, along with tips to help you sail over these speed bumps smoothly.

But first, what qualifies as a micro/small-scale business?

A mess service, a home-made ladoo business, or even a food packaging and reselling outlet can fall under the category of a small business, as long as the capital investment in machinery does not exceed 5 crores, (for businesses in the manufacturing sector) and is up to 2 crores (for businesses in the service industry) If your investment in machinery is up to 25 lakhs (manufacturing sector) and up to 10 lakhs (service sector), your business will be classified as a micro enterprise. In this case, revenue generated does not bear much weight – For example, a vada-pav vendor could be selling 1000+ vada pavs a day from his cart, yet, his business is still classified as a small business.

Partnership, Proprietorship, or Private Limited? Depends on the need.
Another question often raised deals with registrations – what kind of company registration should start-up founders and co-founders opt for? According to deAsra mentors, it depends on the need. For example, when you’re at the cusp of transforming your chakli-making hobby into a full-fledged business, you may start off with a proprietorship registration, and later, as the business scales, convert it into a private limited, in order to run it in more professional way.as well as to take advantage of tax benefits.

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Get your licenses right before anything else.

Before you get your business in place, it is essential to get your licenses in order. Miss this step, and fines or penalties could be staring you in the face.

For any business, however small, FSSAI registration and the Shop Act registration are compulsory. Manufacturers, distributors, retail traders and stockists also need to get licenses if their business turnover exceeds 12 lakhs.
A variety of legal formalities too are applicable on the different kinds of company registration. For example, partnership businesses call for partnership deeds and registration thereof, and private limited companies need to get registered at the Registrar of Companies (ROC).

Funding is more accessible than most people think.

Since Pune (and the surrounding region up to a radius of 40 kms) is classified as a developed zone, certain government subsidies do not apply to businesses here. However, to give women entrepreneurs a leg-up, the government has launched many organisations, like the Mahila Arthik Vikas Mahamandal, which offers loans at beneficial interest rates.

The big F word in the start-up scene – funding – is not out of reach anymore – especially if your business is commercially viable, enjoys a continuous stream of revenue and you can raise up to 25% of the margin demand by the bank. And even if that margin is beyond your scope, organisations like deAsra connect you to banks and financial institutions who can give your business some amount of runway.

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Image Courtesy: Quora

Research before you figure out your pricing sweet spot.

“How should I price my products/services?” is one of the foremost challenges every entrepreneur faces. Low prices can undercut competition, but can also make your business unviable, while high prices will put you out of the running completely.

 

To tackle pricing, deAsra mentors help the business owners undertake a thorough audit where they assess the financial viability of a business, and estimate various fixed and variable costs, including raw materials, equipments, electricity, packing material, etc.
They also encourage entrepreneurs to carry out extensive competitor studies, observe the rates in the surrounding localities for the same product/service, and then work on the pricing model.
The USP of your business and its competitive edge can also affect pricing.

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Source: Google Images

Marketing matters.

A preference for a brand can only be born when there is awareness of that brand’s existence. To get customers beating a path to your shop, deAsra mentors recommend converting your current brand champions into marketers for your business, since referrals, according to them, work the best. Roping in relatives and friends who swear by your delicacies and spreading the news through them is a good way to get one foot in the door.
A few other marketing tactics which can get you off to a good start include distributing food samples and leaflets in your area of operation, distributing products through retail outlets and offering incentives/discounts, especially to referred customers.
Keeping in touch with customers through Whatsapp and email marketing channels; and closely monitoring people’s preferences is also crucial. For example, people are becoming increasingly health-conscious, so incorporating that aspect into your product (think ‘diet chiwda’) could help boost sales.
For a vada pav seller, a simple change in the presentation of his product – and a switch from a wooden cart to a swanky mobile van – did wonders for his business.

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Watch out for these hurdles.

As an entrepreneur, it’s ok to make mistakes; in fact mistakes are the stepping stones to success. But learning from those mistakes, and more importantly, learning from other people’s mistakes, can take you a long way ahead in the entrepreneurial journey.

For example, many food businesses end up buying wholesale quantities and building unwanted inventory, which leads to revenue drain. Also, home-grown businesses borrow money from chit funds or micro-finance institutions, which lands them with higher rates of interest. Instead, opt for banks and reputed financial institutions, suggest deAsra mentors. For food businesses, maintaining consistency in quality and taste is also a major problem area. This can be solved by strictly adhering to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Raw materials need to be tested too, which is not widely practised in India. For example, there are more than 20 kinds of potatoes produced in our country, so a vada pav seller has to test all varieties and find out which works best for his vadas.
Keeping tabs on the shelf life of products is equally crucial; maintaining a batch-wise record of products can prove to be helpful in this case. Apart from this, maintaining a proper book of records is essential and comes in handy when you need to recover pending payment dues.

The food business is beset with labour problems – how does one handle that?

According to deAsra mentors, most business owners forget that their labourers too, at the end of the day, are customers, and should be treated with dignity and respect. At deAsra, business owners are introduced to HR management techniques, which help bridge the gap of discord between labourers and owners, while building loyalty and reducing attrition.

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Finally, don’t give up too soon, and don’t pass up expert help.

Any food business generally takes a year to pick up pace, and that’s if the quality is top-notch and the right marketing strategies and SOPs are followed to a T. What’s the advice of deAsra mentors to budding entrepreneurs? ‘Don’t give up on your business too soon, but more importantly, don’t hesitate to ask for expert help. Help can move you forward, fast.’

deAsra partners with mentors, business experts and other complementary organisations and financial institutions to help entrepreneurs build a successful food business from the ground-up. Need help with your food business? Give us a call at +91 20 65365300 / 11.

To know how we helped other food businesses take off, read our impact stories here.